August 7, 2010
As we leave the comfort of the shade to explore the dam today the sun hits us with full force. There is a small unpaved road that runs down to the dam and as we walk along it with Shyla we witness the biggest wasps we have ever seen. They are about and inch in body length (and some even bigger) with wings that resemble butterfly wings when they fly because of the size and coloring. They do not appear aggressive and we are mesmerized by their flight as they travel from one wild flower to the next. I found out they are called Tarantula Hawks and the ones we are viewing are mostly the males feeding on the nectar and looking for females ready to reproduce. The females however are the ones to watch out for. This species derives its name from its feeding and reproductive methods. The females will sting and paralyze the tarantula, drag it back to the nest (this gives you an idea of how big this wasp is that it can drag a tarantula anywhere) and then lays a single egg on its back. When the egg hatches it begins to feast on the live tarantula carefully avoiding any vital organs so as to prolong the life of its fresh feast. Ugh….what a way to go! With stingers that are up to 7 mm long they are said to be the most painful insect sting in the world. Ouch…..luckily they are not aggressive as we were standing in an area of about 200 of them!!!
As the heat intensifies we decide we would like to continue our explorations of the other side but it is way too hot so we decide to continue within the comforts of the truck. We drive back to the damn and while Shyla and I protect the truck from any invading insects we send Andrew out into the wild to photograph the wasps. Luckily we found out all the information about them after the shots or we would probably never have gotten them.
We continue in the truck up and over to the other side of the park and to the actual reservoir. Our campground is at the bottom of the dam (so lets hope it doesn’t suddenly form a leak) and the reservoir therefor is above us. This side of the lake is completely void of brush, bush, and tree. It is plentiful in wild grass and sunflowers. We are looking at the map provided by the ranger office that states this side has another 100 sites. Travel on this side is along a graveled but well maintained drive. At first glance we are not seeing anything that resembles camp sites. It seems they must be down close to the water. However we are mistaken…..they are here…..what’s that saying….hidden in plain sight. We reach a sign that designates the area as camping and we see that the area is so overgrown that the primitive sites here were hidden from view. The sign really caught our attention!
As we read the sign we wonder if it was mistakenly put here as some of the points on it do not seem to make any sense. Especially the eighth point! We could not find a tree anywhere up on this side…..wonder if there ever was? Or maybe that’s the point…..maybe too many times the trees had things tied to them and now they’re extinct. Andrew loved the 3.2% alcohol rule listed on the sign…..so what….the ranger comes by and takes a swig of your beer to see if it meets the percentage rule????? Maybe that is one of the perks of being a park ranger that they use as a secret weapon to recruit with. We have had so much fun with the signs on this trip. I don’t think we have ever seen so many humorous ones. I believe David Letterman would have loved this one!!!
This telephone poll seemed so out of place not connected to any anything and with no other pole anywhere around. Wonder if this was the actual first attempt at the concept “Wireless Connections.” Maybe this is why no one is camped up here as technology is not quite up to par here!
We head into town for a couple of items and passed these two businesses. Not quite sure if they understand the term “PALACE”….
That evening we invited our new friends, Dwayne and Lois, over to share a campfire with us. Tonight the stars were not as visible as the clouds threatened rain in the forecast. Plenty of lightening and some thunder but we were not visited by any rain…..instead by a ranger about 11pm who was making sure all was kept quiet. He was lucky that Shyla the beast and protector of all didn’t devour him as he sneaked across the field behind us to our site. She was too cozy I guess at my feet soaking in the heat of the fire to be bothered with this mere mortal. As the fire began to linger down our guest bade farewell. It has been nice to be able to be outside after dark!!!